Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How to sew with nice even seam allowances or topstitching

In my classes I find that a lot of people who are new to sewing lose sight of how wide their seam allowance ought to be. And even those with a bit more experience sometimes need a bit of guidance on how to keep parallel lines of topstitching (like on bag straps) nice and straight. Here's a simple trick to help out in either case.

Ahhhh, the old Post-It Note trick.... Well, you can use masking tape instead - but Post-It Notes stay straight when you stick them down, are a doddle to move around and don't leave sticky residue. A small Post-It Note pad also fits more neatly into a sewing kit than a roll of masking tape.

HERE'S HOW...
1. Mark the depth of your seam allowance (or row of topstitching) from the edge of your fabric, and line that mark up with your needle. I usually snip a small nick in the fabric to mark the seam allowance, but a chalk pencil mark (shows up nicely in photographs and) is an absolutely fine alternative if you prefer not to snip.

2. Lower the presser foot on the machine and stick the Post It note down on the machine bed against the edge of the fabric. This will remind you which seam guide to use... in fact it will BE your new seam guide. (While you're sewing, keep the edge of the fabric running along the edge of the Post-It Note). Your seam allowance will be SUPER STRAIGHT (and your machine will probably be sewing better than this machine was... insert long story here and move on, folks).

3. If you're sewing parallel lines, you can repeat the process again to sew the next row....

4. ...and the next row. You can keep moving that note out again and again until it... well, loses it's sticky. You then have the NEXT leaf in the notepad to use. Luckily there are lots of them.

Copyright Nicole Mallalieu 2008

15 comments:

CurlyPops said...

Oh wow....I'm loving these little tips. I always have trouble with making my topstitching nice and even. Thanks so much!

Word verification: KIXME
I had to chuckle at that!

Linda said...

Oh thank you so much! This is always where I fall down, and is always such a disappointment but won't be any longer. How very clever. Thanks again!

thehardings said...

Great tip. Thanks for sharing.
Sal :)

Vicki said...

Great tip! And your sewing studio sounds very inviting. I am sure there a lots of good coffee shops near by too.

Penny said...

Such a good tip! My machine has markings on it already which are invaluable to me... I'd be lost without them!

summer pickles said...

wow, you call it the ol' post it note trick... i call it the brand-spanking-new-could-improve-my-life post it note trick :)
thanks so much for sharing this little gem Nikki.

twocheeseplease said...

This very well could revolutionise my entire life!

thank you!

~Holly
Two Cheese Please

Nathalie Brault said...

What a great tip. My sewing machine is full of masking tape already. But it's always nice to read on these tips. Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

darn, why didn't I think of that? thanks!

XUE said...

greetings from Tokyo! I just came upon yr blog & wish to say thank you for all the wonderful tips! I hv been making stuff for my little girl & just started sewing bags so I really appreciated all the friendly advice.

Mamati @ Daily dose of me said...

Thank you ever so much for the very useful tip. I was in OZ for 2 years but didnt learn how to sew until i came back home to the Middle East that is.

This tip will defintely help the straight lines i am off to try it now :)

Tori Wright said...

Thats genius!

Anna said...

I found this tip in your You Sew Girl book and was totally gobsmacked at how cool it is and how well it works...LOVE your book, it has improved my sewing waaaay above and beyond I ever thought it would be...my reversible baby hat even turned out well!!! Thanks SOOOO much for writing that book!!!

Lynn said...

VERY helpful tip! ...and I have been sewing for years~

Sew-Whats-New.com said...

Very helpful tip and tutorial. You spent some time on it and it shows. Nice job. We'd love to feature you @ Sew-Whats-New.com some time. :)